"Used to Be a Cop"
Over seven minutes of tensely coiled Southern rock, Patterson Hood plays an ex-cop whose "temper and the shakes" cost him his badge, his family and his mind. Maybe he'll shoot up a Cracker Barrel. Either way, his too-human desolation is why Hood thinks he deserves a song this powerful. Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
Discodeine ft. Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis goes disco! On the latest in a stellar year's worth of singles from DFA Records (LCD Soundsystem main man James Murphy's label), Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker teams up with French house luminary Pilooski's part-time duo Discodeine for a groove as suave as the vintage Chic records that clearly inspired it. Jarvis's foggy croon sounds perfect over cross-cutting strings and explosive drum fills. Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
Tapes 'n Tapes
Like a blog-buzz phoenix, Minneapolis' Tapes 'n Tapes tries rising again to the hype-making garage rock that first earned them Internet love five years ago. This galloping mix of distorted guitars and wild yelps is their strongest effort since. Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
"What the Hell"
Avril Lavigne is pop's presiding mean girl, sneering and snarling like a punk kewpie doll with Tourette's over some of the most sticky-sweet melodies ever to hit the Billboard charts. "What the Hell" is Avril in a nutshell: Co-written by Max Martin, it's an anthem about a good girl who goes on a crazy-bender, staying out late, swapping boys and exacting psychological revenge. She starts out defiant ("All I want is to mess around") and quickly turns vicious: "I am messing with y... | More »
Created for Prince William's bachelor party ("and all bachelor parties around the world to follow"), Snoop's new single is a bit of seductive minimalism that packs an R. Kelly album's worth of sex metaphors into four laid-back minutes: "Be my head coach," "I can give it to you rough, like a first draft," "I'm in between your lips, like a cigarette." Amusing stuff — but what would the Queen think? Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
"6 Foot 7 Foot"
Wayne's first post-prison single (which he cut for Tha Carter IV) suggests his teeming brain was eating itself during all that time alone: Rarely has the man sounded so virtuosically loopy. Over thick synth burble and a "Banana Boat Song" sample, he makes up for lost nooky ("Never met the bitch but I fuck her like I missed her") and sprays intense metaphysical graffiti all over: "Life is the bitch and death is the sister/Sleep is the cousin/What a fuckin' family picture." Gallery: ... | More »
Peter Buck's psychedelic guitar intro gives a tantalizing taste of the new-model R.E.M. — like Jefferson Airplane circa Surrealistic Pillow covering Sonic Youth's "Eric's Trip." A track from the eagerly awaited Collapse Into Now (due in March), "Discoverer" has the widescreen presence of R.E.M. classics like New Adventures in Hi-Fi. But when Michael Stipe bellows, "Hey, baby, this is not a challenge," you don't believe it. Gallery: R.E.M., A History in Photos | More »
"Christmas In Harlem"
Kanye's tinsel-tinted stocking stuffer sounds uncharacteristically tossed-off, as if he's preoccupied with the Xmas shopping spree he says he's planning. But actual Harlem R&B hopeful Teyana Taylor offers warmth from the wind chill, eventually slipping into the comfy melody from the Brothers Johnson's "Strawberry Letter 23." And gruff-rapping Atlanta Santa CyHi Da Prynce promises presents for non-Christian kiddies, too — hauled in a Porsche-speed sleigh. ... | More »
"Rolling in the Deep"
With the follow-up to her Grammy-snagging 2008 album looming, this London pop-soul singer made a surprising choice for the disc's first single: "Rolling in the Deep" finds the 22-year-old in bluesy gospel mode, sounding powerful but not particularly pop. Starting with a stroked acoustic guitar, this breakup-mourning track builds to a stomping, hand-clapping climax that affirms the English knack for rejiggering the sound of American roots music. "I can't help feeling we could've... | More »